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Lakeville North Panthers pound Grand Rapids Thunderhawks

The opening game of the 2014 Timberwolves Shootout turned out to be a showcase for JP Macura as he scored 24 points to lead the Lakeville North Panthers to a 59-36 victory over the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks Saturday morning at Target Center.

It took a while for both teams to break into the scoring column. Alex Reiland began the scoring with a three pointer 1:48 into the game. Alex Illikanen, the Grand Rapids junior averaging 26.5 points per game scored the Thunderhawks first basket to cut the lead to one. But it was Macura, who will play next season at Xavier in Cincinnati, who entered the Target center spotlight, scoring eight straight points. He also scored on an underhanded lay up and helped Lakeville North go on 6-0 and 9-0 runs to take a 24-15 halftime lead.

in the second half, the Panthers started on a 5-0 run before Macura picked up his third foul with 16:14 left, sending him to the bench. Reid Ziehr picked up his third foul 19 seconds later and Lakeville North put Grand Rapids in the bonus with 12:51 to go. But it didn't make a difference for the northern Minnesota school as they lost their major offensive cog in Illikanen, who fouled out with 6:41 remaining. It also opened the door for the Panthers to pull away as Macura dazzled the Target center crowd with three consecutive dunks, two of them right handed.

It wasn't all Macura for Lakeville North, ranked third in Class AAAA. Connor Fleck led the Panthers in rebounds with 13 and Nick Oblak hit a three pointer to increase the lead to the final margin of 23. Head coach John Oxton,cleared the bench and gave the reserves an opportunity to earn some playing time.

Illikanen led Grand Rapids with 17 points and 13 rebounds. It was his first sub 20 point game since he scored 15 against Cloquet on December 5.

Lakeville North improved their record to 9-1 and Grand Rapids fell to 8-3.